Bearing the bad news

From the Editor’s Desk

By DAWN BOOTH

Toonink5594_Paris(choriz)

As the November 13th events in Paris, France unfolded around the world, I had just come home from picking my oldest up at school. My mind had been busied, since earlier in the day I learned about a local resident, who is believed to be male, going over the side of the Steinhauer Bridge.

Of course, I was already feeling beside myself, as I hoped the result would have a positive outcome for this person. Then, I had moments of relief when I read a rumour on social media that he was OK and at the hospital. (However at press time on November 17, Search and Rescue were/are still looking.)

Ironically or not ironic at all, Friday the 13th was becoming a very bad news day.

I settled into my home and after turning on the television, the broadcaster had announced the toll in the Paris attacks was at 60 confirmed deceased. I went motionless watching the terror in complete disbelief. Thoughts running through my head: What does this mean? What does this mean?

A few hours later, reports had come by email about a suspicious package being found at the Fort McMurray International Airport. Naturally, I wondered if this was related to the events happening in Paris. Am I now being paranoid? What is happening? I spoke to a friend who said she was at the airport. She had similar thoughts, while experiencing the evacuation and “was freaked out”.

How do I explain to a four-year-old the world events taking place, when even I was, and still am, having trouble putting it all together in words?

I continued to watch the news on TV steadily into the night with the toll in Paris rising, and though my children were amongst me, it was hard to focus on anything but. At one point, my four-year-old son asked me why I was crying, I couldn’t help my emotions and could only reply with: “Bad things are happening”. How do I explain to a four-year-old the world events taking place, when even I was, and still am, having trouble putting it all together in words?

It was on Saturday afternoon (almost a day after first hearing about the attacks) when I first got in touch with local resident Cliff Dimm on Facebook. He was in Paris at the time, having his first meal in 24 hours, and continued sharing his experiences as they were unfolding.

For the better portion on Saturday, I turned the TV off and we had our extended family visit us. It was a good time to be selfishly disconnected from the chaos taking place, as my tireless mind needed a break.
As the second night arrived, I was tuned in again. Thinking that maybe by sitting and watching, I was doing something meaningful.

I wanted to see what others were feeling, if they were asking the same questions as I was. I wanted to see if they were relating the same way I was… some weren’t.

Sitting and watching like the majority of us, I turned to social media. A form of media that I continuously promote and use to connect with family and friends, and our community. I wanted to see what others were feeling, if they were asking the same questions as I was. I wanted to see if they were relating the same way I was… some weren’t.

I was taught that a good journalist doesn’t take sides. A good journalist finds the balance to both sides of the story. A good journalist should be open-minded and ready for anything. I was caught in a frenzy of feelings from others’ opinions and remarks of what others’ felt were the solution to the ongoing problems. Some expressed fear, while others expressed hate.

Shortly after, I hear from Cliff. He tells me how he was caught in the false alarm, where fireworks were mistaken as gunfire at a memorial mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral on Sunday night. I checked myself. I look around me to see my children, my husband. I feel the warmth of my home. I’m thankful and tell Cliff that I’m glad he’s OK and hope he and his friends come home safely.

On Monday, I woke up optimistic, hoping a fresh week would bring better news. In minutes, I learn from my publisher the sad announcement of our regional councillor John Chadi passing away. I’m mournful and I personally share the news with people who knew him well. Again, more tears, more hurt, more pain.

I’m alarmed later after receiving a press release about the two pedestrians who were struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Confederation Way and Millennium Drive at 5 a.m. on Saturday, one who is currently suffering life-threatening injuries at our hospital. I am wondering what is going through the mind of the 21-year-old who allegedly hit them and fled the scene. My heart is with victims and their families.

Cliff shared how his experience won’t deter him to travel, that he will not live in fear. He told me that, “Paris is beautiful and I will absolutely go back.”

November has brought a lot of sadness to us, as we took the time nationally to honour our veterans and road crash victims, we are also surrounded by mourning on a local and global scale. By keeping all of it in mind, it allows us to reflect on the past, the tragedies, the loved ones lost. However, it also lets us look at our present and to the future.
Earlier today (November 17), Cliff shared how his experience won’t deter him to travel, that he will not live in fear. He told me that, “Paris is beautiful and I will absolutely go back.”

When I was college, I put together a bucket list of things I want to do before I died. The number one thing on my list: See the Eiffel Tower. And though I experienced fear from my own home this past weekend on the other side of my television screen and computer, Cliff’s inspirational story has reminded me to keep Paris number one on my list.
We can’t control many things in our lives, but we can’t live in fear. I’m hoping the recent events will remind us to keep positive, count our blessings and continue focusing on living well.

– Connect Weekly –